| What Are The Signs Of Alcohol Poisoning?
If someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning they will not be aware enough to help themselves. Signs of poisoning include:
• Severely slurred speech
• Confusion and loss of coordination
• Stupor, they still be conscious but unable to verbally respond
• Pale skin or blue-tinged skin indicating hypothermia
• Passing out
Why Is It Dangerous?
People die from alcohol poisoning. They can choke on their own vomit or inhale the vomit leading to deadly lung damage. Or they can stop breathing, have a heart attack or suffer seizures brought on by low blood sugar levels. Even if they survive all this, they may be left with permanent brain damage. Rapid binge drinking (the type that happens with a bet) is particularly dangerous because the person can drink a fatal dose before falling unconscious.
What To Do
If The Person Is Conscious
If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, but they are still conscious call 800-222-1222 (in the United States). You will automatically be routed to your local poison center. This is an emergency center that can advise whether or not to take the person to hospital. At the same time:
• Give the person water if they can drink it
• Try to keep them awake and sitting up
What Not To Do (Destroying The Myths)
• Don't give them coffee, it will make them more dehydrated
• Don't try to make them walk around
• Don't put them under a cold shower
• Never leave them alone or lying on their back
• Don't let them drink more alcohol
If The Person Is Unconscious
If they have passed out lie them on their side in the recovery position so they don't choke on their own vomit.
• Keep them warm with blankets or coats.
• Stay with them and monitor them closely. Never assume a person will 'sleep off' alcohol poisoning.
Medical staff will monitor the patient's vital signs until the alcohol has left their system. They may also:
• Stick a tube down their throat to help them breathe.
• Put an IV drip into a vein to feed them water, vitamins and blood sugar.
• Insert a tube (catheter) into their bladder to drain urine into a bag so they don't wet themselves.
• Pump their stomach. To do this a tube is inserted into the nose or mouth and fluids are flushed through it.
Important Notes And Statistics
1. Vomiting is a clear indication that you have binged to a dangerous level.
2. 1.2 million emergency room visits and 2.7 million doctor office visits were made in 2006 due to excessive drinking. (Source: CDC)
3. Just under 400 people die every year in the United States directly from alcohol poisoning.
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